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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript: Government Shutdown

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Joining us now to sort this out is Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, who first won his seat in 1996, beating the Republican incumbent who was part of the 1994 republican landslide. Congressman Pascrell, I remember you from my New Jersey days, thank you for being here tonight.

I wonder if you could just start out by talking to people a little bit about your experience in 1996, running against the Gingrich shutdown, running against the Gingrich Congress, what that experience was like and whether you think the same climate can exist in 2014.

REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: There are some similarities, Steve, between the `96 -- when you look at the `96 election and look at what the possibilities are for 2014. If you remember in 1996, our efforts, if you look at every one of those races, particularly the ones that changed from the Republican to Democrat, the focus was Newt Gingrich. The focus was his leading the Republican Party at the time where they closed the government down. And that the Republican congressional candidates, many of whom were incumbents, were like puppets of Newt Gingrich.
And they suffered in that election. We didn`t take over the House, but they suffered tremendous amount of losses in the `96 election, particularly in the House.

And you know, Newt Gingrich knew that the people he brought into office in 1994, the revolution as he called it -- and it was a revolution, no question bit, he worked hard to make a Republican majority -- were the same ones that turned against him in `98 when he moved out of the House of Representatives for multiple reasons. He brought people in that never had any experience in government, that were true believers, that were almost iconoclast, and did not believe really in the democratic process of everybody is equal to the table when we debate.

And that`s what you might have this year. I`m not saying that I can`t prognosticate, I cannot predict what`s going to happen in 2014, but I have a good feeling that wee done, the Democrats have done the right thing. When they say we`re not willing to negotiate, that is so much bull it is not funny. They had six months to negotiate the budget. The Senate passed the budget, they were always criticizing the Senate for not passing a budget. The House passed the budget.The protocol means you bring both parties of together, and you sit down and you come up with a compromise. They wished not to do that. This was planned, this closing. This was a gift to the far right of their party.

I don`t blame the far right. I blame the Republican leadership and that`s what happened in `96. And that`s finally happened when Clinton ran for president.

KORNACKI: But what about, Congressman, the difference we sort of getting at in the intro there, like, look, you can look back at `95 and `96, and say a state like New Jersey, Bush Sr. carried it, Reagan carried it. That was something the Republicans could lose in the `90s, and they did lose it, they lost in Northeast, they lost the Pacific coast, they had a lot of congressmen in districts like yours who can win before the Gingrich shutdown who can`t win anymore.

Is there anything left for them to lose or have we reached the point where for the Republicans, the biggest threat is the Republican primary and it doesn`t give you guys as much leverage?

PASCRELL: Nothing is impossible to overcome. Steve, if you remember my election in 1996, my opponent who was the incumbent at the time, had so much money, he had more money than Carter had liver pills in the `96 election. But you want to know something, when you continue to fight for what you believe in, be you a Democrat or Republican, you work hard at it.

What`s happened in this election as we look forward to 2014 is they`re relying on a right wing take-over of the federal government -- that`s not going to happen. What Boehner has allowed to happen, beginning in 2011, was for the right wing of this party to start calling the shots. To keep them in line, to protect his own leadership.
I like John Boehner. I happen to think that he is a good American and wants the government to really do what we`re supposed to be doing, is that we`re helping people where people can`t be helped any further by their own initiatives.

I personally believe that he is in for a sad awakening next year. And I would like him to stand up and say let`s have a clean vote on the budget. That is what we need right now. Let`s get on with the other issues of the debt. Let`s get on other issues of where this country is going in terms of its investments, if you look at the last four months in terms of economic growth. If you look at the housing prices, if you look at where mortgages are going and where -- now we have a decline, thank God, in foreclosures.

We`re going in the right direction. But these Republicans don`t want this president to succeed. And that`s where it is at. People aren`t dumb. They can understand this.I support the health care act. I think it`s going to work. They don`t want it to be successful. Why not? Should they have a plan to take the place of the ACA, the Affordable Care Act? They don`t have anything, all they have is rhetoric.

KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, no one can ever accuse you of hiding your true feelings. Thank you for joining us tonight.

PASCRELL: Thank you, Steve. It`s always a pleasure to be with you.

KORNACKI: Appreciate it. Good to see you.

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